The Critical Reception of Flappers & Philosophers Essay

The Critical Reception of Flappers & Philosophers Essay

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The Critical Reception of Flappers & Philosophers

Flappers and Philosophers served as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “initial encore” after the “considerable success” of his first novel, This Side of Paradise.[1] Fitzgerald’s publisher, Scribners, “liked to have its authors issue short-story collections soon after they had published novels”; the Fall of 1920 offered Fitzgerald, as well as the publishing firm, a unique opportunity to both reinforce and, hopefully, expand the writer’s popular appeal.[2] Fifteen of his stories had been previously published or accepted for future publication when Fitzgerald selected stories for inclusion in Flappers and Philosophers in April of 1920. While the author “conceived initially of this collection as a mixture of poetry and prose,” the finished volume featured eight stories composed subsequent to the completion of This Side of Paradise and previously published in leading magazines, including the Saturday Evening Post, Smart Set, and Scribner’s Magazine.[3]

Dedicated “TO ZELDA” and published on September 10, 1920, only five months removed from This Side of Paradise, Flappers and Philosophers sold well, enjoying a first printing of 5,000 copies and sales of 13,325 copies by November 1922.[4] Although the popular response to the collection appeared overwhelmingly enthusiastic, “the critical response was mixed” and, at times, “quite hostile.”[5] Some critics proposed that the volume “marks the conversion of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s undisciplined and turbid genius…into a bridled and clarified talent” and praised mastery “of the mechanism of short story technique”; a comparatively complimentary review in the New York Sun contends that “these short stories are not so much technically perfec...

... middle of paper ... and Philosophers, by F. Scott Fitzgerald (New York: Scribner’s, 1959), 12

[4] Eble, Kenneth, F. Scott Fitzgerald. (New York: Twayne, 1963), 54

[5] Petry, Alice Hall, Fitzgerald’s Craft of Short Fiction: The Collected Stories, 1920-1935 (Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, 1989), 9

[6] Bryer, 15, 17

[7] Bryer, 15

[8] Bryer, 16; Petry, 9

[9] Bryer, 16; Eble, 54

[10] “Flappers.” The New York Times [New York] 26 September 1920

[11] Times 26 September 1920; Klatt, Marion, “Critical Reception of Flappers and Philosophers” (

[12] New York Herald, 24 October 1920, qtd. in Klatt

[13] Mizener, 16

[14] Tate, Mary Jo. F. Scott Fitzgerald A to Z. (New York: Facts on File, 1998), 90

[15] Bryer, 22

[16] Ibid.

[17] Bryer, 20

[18] Bryer, 21, 23

[19] Petry, 52, 51

[20] Mizener, 15; Petry, 52

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